The Siblings Story
Like any great story or work of art, the genesis of creativity starts with an idea. Shortly after the merging of their two respective companies into what is now CKC Quarterly Productions, Producer Curtis K Case called his partner Joseph Horning to pose an idea that would lead to the creation of Siblings the Series.
"We were in the beginning stages of pre-production for Where is my Golden Arm," Horning recalled, "when Curtis called me and said 'I'd like to do a web-series. Do you think that's possible?' And I said 'absolutely!'"
"The whole idea for Siblings came about when I was hanging out at work with Bryant Mitchell Williams," Case said. "We were talking about various projects we've worked on as well as what Joe and I had planned for Where
is My Golden Arm when he suggested that I make a web-series about an everyday African-American family that has to deal with all of these different quirks and controversies. I told him I liked the idea and that he shouldn't be too surprised if I called him up one day to say I was going to do it! That's when I contacted Joe and told him the basic premise of the series."
"Going into this I knew we'd have to delay work on Where is My Golden Arm," Horning said, "but I was completely fine with moving ahead on another project. We had hit a few snags in location scouting and I was just sitting around waiting for places I contacted to get back to me, so having something creative to get my hands on was a welcomed opportunity. Plus I've always wanted to work on a web-series."
Over the course of four weeks in the summer of 2016, Case and Horning developed the characters and plots for Siblings. Case had already had an idea of who his cast was going to be, inviting Bryant Mitchell Williams to come on board as Stephen, the oldest brother of the family.
At the end of July, Horning finished the script for the pilot episode titled "The Gathering"
"I remember reading it and thinking 'This is awesome!!'" Case recalls. "There was just one problem, I told Joe 'I don't think we can make this on a micro-budget.' He had written a great introduction to these characters but there was so much more involved in their background stories that it would've taken us a lot longer to go into production if we had to spend time on finding alternate locations and child actors for the pilot."
"Originally," Horning began, "I delved deeper into the siblings backstory by showing them as kids. I even had their parents written into the episode. My idea was to show the siblings of our main character David (Antoine Williams) as he remembered them versus how they've changed over time to be people he hardly recognizes. The dialogue is still there, but we had to rewrite those scenes to remove their parents and the flashbacks of them as children to fit our budget. It would be great to go back some time in the future and revisit those scenes because they did a lot to develop the characters of the siblings early on."
Case brought his friend Shon Wilson on board as a story editor to help with the pilot. "There were things she brought to the script that helped develop the characters of Stephanie (Tiffany Commons) and Alexandria (Shanute Usual) more. She used her background in dance to make Stephanie more believable and her knowledge of fashion to broaden Alexandria's personality."
"That was a big help for me," Horning said. "I am by no means a fashion or dance expert and research can only take you so far so having her input on their characters helped write episodes down the line."
When Wilson left after helping to edit the first episode, Horning brought on his friend Trish DePriest to help with the remaining episodes of the first season. She was even responsible for helping write the fourth episode "Awkwardness."
As Horning continued working on scripts for the first season, tragic events began to unfold around the nation as reports of police shootings of African-Americans and other minorities became an almost weekly occurrence. Case knew that he wanted to use Siblings as a platform to express his concerns and make a statement on the current state of affairs around the nation. "The ironic thing is I had always meant to touch upon the police shootings in America in Siblings. I felt like I needed to vent some frustrations because at the time I was upset, as I'm sure a lot of other people were at our President for not doing more to combat against the shootings. I called up Joe and told him what I wanted and expressed to him my feelings and he was in total agreement."
Horning said, "Before Curtis and I even talked about incorporating the police shootings into the series, I had already thought of a way to develop that into the plot. So when he called and said "This is what I want to do," I was already ready for him. In fact, I took most of our conversation that day on the phone and turned it in to dialogue for David's character"
Horning and Case both agree that this series is going to be controversial as it tackles subjects like race, religion and politics. "The hardest part for me," Horning said, "was approaching these stories from both sides of opposing arguments. David's character is extremely conservative while my views are more left leaning, so I had to compromise and find a middle ground on many topics that I necessarily don't agree with. But these are things you have to to do as a writer if you want to engage an audience with different viewpoints. I don't want to be preachy but I do want people on both sides to see these episodes and take a little more time to think about the subjects we're tackling."
"People are always telling celebrities and entertainers to shut up and just entertain," Case said, "but what they forget is that we're citizens and we have opinions that matter and if we can use what we have at our disposal to get people talking, whether if they agree with what we have to say or not, the main thing is we get them to talk. That's how real change happens."